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N.J. Muslim Community Remembers Pakistani American Teacher and Son who Died in a River 

N.J. Muslim Community Remembers Pakistani American Teacher and Son who Died in a River 

  • Warda Syed, 35, and her son Uzair Ahmed, 11, were found floating near a waterfall in Grace Lord Park in Boonton.

Members of the Muslim American community in northern New Jersey joined friends and family to lay to rest, a 35-year-old woman and her 11-year-old son, who died three days ago in a river in Boonton. On Feb. 23, police found Warda Syed, 35, and her son Uzair Ahmed, 11, dead in a river in Grace Lord Park in Boonton. A second child, a 6-year-old boy, found at the scene was also confirmed as Syed’s son. The child’s name was not released. 

Syed, a Pakistani American was a substitute teacher at the Boonton school district and worked in the district’s aftercare program. 

Funeral services for Syed and Ahmed were held on Feb. 26 at the Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton. “Mourners gathered in droves on Madison Street, sitting cross-legged on prayer mats, finding space on the street and in adjacent lots, captive and racked by grief,” reported. 

At the funeral, Gul Khan, coordinator for the Morris County Islamic Centers and founder of Different Faiths One Family, read a statement on behalf of the family. “Our family is mourning the loss of a beloved mother, sister, a wife and a friend of many here today,” the statement read, according to “She loved her children and she always tried to protect her children. Uzair was full of life and a beautiful smile. He loved his friends in John Hill School and JMIC.” 

The family also called for town leaders to install safety measures at the park and bring awareness to the community, said.“We lost Warda and Uzair to a very tragic accident. Our lives will never be the same,” the statement said. “Let’s not let anything like that happen again.”

The Morris County prosecutor’s office is investigating the scene. Meghan Knab, Public Information Officer at Morris County Prosecutor’s Office told American Kahani that no updates are being provided as the incident is currently under investigation. 

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As per a press release issued by the prosecutor’s office, police were alerted of the incident on Feb. 23, when a passerby called 911 and told police a 6-year-old child was shouting for his mother in the upper pond section of Grace Lord Park. When police arrived, they found the child standing by the bank of the Rockaway River and saw footprints leading down to the water. Syed and her son were quickly located at the top of a waterfall, which the river flows into. The body of water was not frozen at the time of the incident, but the park itself was covered in snow. 

News reports say police do not suspect foul play or that Syed was trying to take her life. She was apparently dealing with one tragedy after another, beginning with her husband’s stage 4 cancer. Dr. Abdul Raja told local media that the Syed family rented a second-floor apartment from his cousin. He said he was there just days ago to offer his support and condolences, as Syed’s husband has been hospitalized. “Her brother died of coronavirus two weeks ago. Her sister was a doctor, she died three days ago in Pakistan,” Raja said. However, he told the police that he does not believe Syed was trying to take her own life, wondering why she would take one child and leave the other.

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